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A Closer Look at Key Peninsula Fire Department’s Funding & Summer Safety Tips

As the warmth of summer embraces us, the Key Peninsula Fire Department (KPFD) has already witnessed a concerning sign of excess drying and early brush fires. With the official first day of summer still a couple of weeks away, it's crucial to exercise outdoor fire safety at all times. Furthermore, despite the increasing temperatures, we must remember that water around the KP remains extremely cold and can pose risks of cold shock. In this blog post, we'll not only discuss important summer safety tips but also shed light on how the KPFD is funded and the significance of our M&O levy for maintaining the department's operations.

Summer Safety Tips:

As the summer weather engulfs us, it's essential to prioritize safety while enjoying outdoor activities. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Fire Safety: Due to the excess drying and persistent winds, we've observed brush fires earlier than usual this year. To prevent such incidents, exercise caution and follow these fire safety guidelines:

- Avoid open burning during dry periods.

- Dispose of cigarette butts properly in designated containers.

- Maintain a safe distance from flammable materials while operating grills or bonfires.

- Report any signs of smoke or fire promptly to the KPFD.

Water Safety: While the heat may entice us to cool off in the water, it's vital to remain cautious due to the cold temperatures. Protect yourself from cold shock by adhering to these precautions:

- Wear appropriate safety gear, including life jackets, while participating in water activities.

- Gradually acclimate to the water temperature to reduce the risk of cold shock.

- Stay within designated swimming areas and avoid swimming alone.

- Educate yourself about water currents and potential hazards in the KP region.

Understanding KPFD's Finances:

Citizens often wonder how the Key Peninsula Fire Department is funded. Let's delve into the inner workings of the department's finances and shed light on the primary funding models available in Washington State.

The KPFD relies primarily on taxes to support its operations. Washington fire districts have three key funding models under state law:

- Fire levy: Statutorily limited to no more than $1.50 per $1000 assessed value (AV).

- EMS levy: Statutorily limited to no more than $0.50 per $1000 AV.

- M&O levy: No statutory limit (currently voters have approved $800,000).

Key Peninsula's Funding Mechanisms:

The voters of Key Peninsula have consistently shown their support for the fire district by approving all three funding mechanisms. As of 2022, the levy rates and the resulting revenue for the KP Fire Department are as follows:

- Fire levy: Approved at $1.50 per $1000 AV, generating $5.88 million.

- EMS levy: Approved at $0.40 per $1000 AV, generating $1.57 million.

- M&O levy: Approved at $0.20 per $1000 AV, generating $800,000.

I would like to call special attention to our M&O (maintenance and operations) levy. This critical levy helps ensure that your district's maintenance and operations, including staffing, are adequately funded throughout the year. If fully allocated to staffing, this levy enables us to maintain approximately seven firefighters and along with them ensuring that three fire stations remain staffed. It is important to note that this levy requires renewal every four years, with the upcoming expiration at the end of 2024. Starting in early 2024, the District will initiate an informational rollout for the M&O levy renewal, which will likely be on the August 2024 ballot. Remember, this will not be a new levy, but simply a renewal that will allow us to maintain status quo operations and deployment.

It has been an honor to lead your Key Peninsula Fire Department for the past year. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at


Chief Nick Swinhart

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